Understanding and disrupting illicit financial flows associated with the Southern Route for opiate trafficking 

    Drug trafficking is a business that generates large profits for criminal organizations. These illicit financial flows undermine the economies of Member States, heighten perceived and actual risks to direct foreign investment and undermine the confidence of international development efforts. Heroin trafficking on the 'Southern Route' also creates a permissive environment for other organised crime, drives corruption and is believed to be a key source of funding for the Taliban, which poses a threat to regional security and stability.

     Financial investigation is an excellent source of information that can enhance other law enforcement operations. Financial investigations can also lead to freezing and returning illicit proceeds back to Member States' budgets. UNODC's objective is to build networks between countries and regions to increase their ability to conduct investigations in transnational organised crime networks and their financing methods.

     Against this background, representatives from the Triangular Initiative (TI) - Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan - joined efforts for the first time with representatives from Africa and the Indian Ocean states - Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Seychelles, South Africa and Tanzania - the UAE and Colombia, to share experiences and best practices at the inter-regional level. The representatives discussed how to detect, investigate and disrupt transnational financing methods of organised crime groups. The meeting was supported by partners from the United Nations Security Council ISIL/Al Qaida and Taliban Monitoring Team, UNDP, EU Cocaine Route Programme (CRIMJUST), EU Heroin Route (Phase 3), ARINSA, Interpol, Canada, France, Japan and UK.

     The inter-regional workshop, entitled "Understanding and disrupting illicit financial flows associated with the Southern Route for opiate trafficking" was convened in Stone Town, Zanzibar, United Republic of Tanzania, between 26 February and 3 March, 2017. The event was delivered with a 'One-UN approach' by experts from UNODC's Global and Regional Programmes and Country Offices as part of UNODC's efforts to bring the countries of these regions together to develop strategies and build cooperation in countering drugs, crime and terrorism.  These include:

    • The Global Programme against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime and the Financing of Terrorism (GPML);
    • The Global Maritime Crime Programme;
    • The Global Container Control Programme;
    • The EU Cocaine Route programme (CRIMJUST);
    • The Regional Office of East Africa;
    • The Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries;
    • The Regional Office South Africa;
    • The Sub-Regional Office for the GCC Region; and
    • The Country Office Tanzania.

    The outcomes of this event will support UNODC's ongoing technical assistance activities and the delivery of the objectives of the 'Southern Route' and 'Paris Pact' initiatives.

    The workshop was attended by 65 experts on financial investigations from law enforcement agencies, financial intelligence units, prosecuting authorities, customs agencies, central banks and Ministries of Foreign Affairs. During the four-day event, the participants discussed various topics such as lessons from investigating cocaine trafficking networks, the drugs-terrorism nexus, developing and retaining financial investigation experts, multi-commodity networks (namely, cocaine and heroin), asset recovery networks, enhancing National AML/CFT Risk Assessments and strategic planning for the financial disruption of organised crime networks.

    In the margins of the workshop, a number of operational planning meetings took place and experts also identified where information-sharing MOUs were required to be signed.

    Due to the success of this workshop, experts recommended that it should be repeated twice a year, to allow them to share updated details of current money laundering threats, new methods on financial disruption of organised crime networks and priorities for technical assistance.